What I'm hearing from men is that this false expectation of how women are supposed to look damages men as much as women. It makes them sexualize women when they look at them. It makes their hormones kick in so they can't get past their erections to have a real conversation with a woman. It makes them ashamed of their physical reactions and terrified to talk to a pretty girl.
I think that Hugh Hefner, as just one symbolic figurehead of many, clearly damaged women AND men's appreciation for real women's bodies. This is very, very obvious, but I thought I'd pipe up with the politically-incorrect, culturally-stereotyped view of what makes a woman beautiful, that was TAUGHT to me and deeply inserted into my sexual conditioning, starting at around age 12 or earlier, by Hef, Madison Avenue, billboards, film and TV: what makes a woman beautiful is being under 30, slim, smooth-skinned, wrinkle-free, fat-free, cellulite-free, with long hair, preferably blonde, and a look in the eye that says "You know you want me." That is what many or even most men are up against in our heads when we begin to encounter the world of very real, and very beautiful women who are outside that image. Like I said, obvious; that's why you're doing what you're doing in the first place, right?
And men are beginning to feel some of the same pressure women have been feeling for a long time - their bodies are supposed to look a certain way. I think gay men have felt this pressure for a long time, but now heterosexual men are beginning to as well. Anorexia is on the rise for teenage boys. Steroid use is obviously out of hand.
How can we stop this before it really gets going? I'd hate for men to suffer the same low self-esteem we've been plagued with for years. How can we help people accept their own and other's bodies just how they are?
What can be done to change this cycle? Write in with your ideas. Let's change the world.